The Australian Theatre for Young People’s (ATYP) remounting of Lachlan Philpott’s M.Rock hits all the right comical and musical beats. The hilarious play debuted in 2014 to enthusiastic reviews, and it returns with the much-lauded Valerie Bader reprising the title role.
M.Rock is the whirlwind story of impetuous, 18-year-old Tracy (Milena Barraclough Nesic) who goes AWOL while on an overseas trip, prompting her equally impetuous X-year-old grandmother, Mabel (Bader) to fly across the world on a poorly thought-out search mission. The most unlikely part of the story is that Mabel ultimately ends up becoming a star DJ in an exclusive Berlin nightclub – yet that part is based on fact. Mamy Rock a.k.a Ruth Flowers, was a true life senior citizen who discovered a talent for the turntables and became a podium legend in her twilight years. In Philpott’s play, Mabel’s rise to techno glory is merely an exclamation mark at the end of a more intricate tale of self exploration.
We begin in Bankstown, with Tracy coming home from an all-nighter on the day before she is due to fly to Europe for a pre-university holiday. It’s immediately apparent that Tracy is whimsical and easily led astray. It’s also obvious that she has a much better relationship with her gran, Mabel, with whom she shares her capricious joie de vivre, than with her pragmatic mother, Kerry.
Tracy arrives in London and from there her entire itinerary revolves around nightclubs, eventually taking her to a shared “artist’s residence” (squat) in Berlin, where she abandons her schedule, spends all her money and neglects to contact any family. Mabel hops on a plane and heads to Kenya, a planned destination that Tracy never actually got to. This begins Mabel’s own journey into distraction, discovery, and late bloom.
This is an inventive and very funny piece of theatre, cleverly using minimal sets and a skilful ensemble: Bryn Chapman Parish, Masego Pitso, and Darius Williams, who play multiple roles. The comic delivery is flawless. Celebrity DJ, Venus Guy Trap is on stage to provide authentic beats.
Put on your sparkly sneakers and come and have some fun.